Saturday, May 03, 2008

Editing for Pace

Last night, when I got too bleary to edit properly anymore, I went through and chopped up a bunch of chapters into shorter chapters.  It's another pacing thing.  I especially tried to make some of the quieter chapters shorter.  When I go through with the line/content editing, I'll try to pare those babies down without killing the style of the novel. 

Sentence length, paragraph length, scene length and chapter length are all solid concepts that help me with editing much more than fuzzy muddling about with the words.  Finding the exact right word is all fine and good, but honestly, except for rooting out cliche' phrases, more and more I feel like hunting for exact right words is a distraction from the real work of editing.  

So what is editing, anyway?  It's adjusting awkward prose, rearranging content to make it more understandable (aka less confusing--those bad WTF moments that happen especially in combat scenes) and deepening the work.  Deepening?  Connecting with the emotions.  Filling out the setting so that the reader can immerse in the world.  Realizing the plot's full potential.  Bringing characters to life.  That last one especially--when I'm writing a first draft I don't know the characters in the beginning as well as I do at the end.  So when I edit, I have a chance to let them be who they are without giving away who they'll become.  When I write a first draft I plant the seeds of character and watch them grow.  When I edit, I can inform the reader through the character's actions of what kind of seed I planted here.

Each goal in editing has techniques to help the writer achieve those goals.  At the moment I'm focusing on adjusting awkward prose--not line by line, but the lengths of chapters, especially the very long ones that drag on and on about things that should be quick and dirty when you read it, or that should be reflective but not leave the character navel gazing for twenty pages.

Happy writing everyone, and don't forget to look both ways before crossing the street.

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